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Bertrand Russell quotes (showing 1-30 of 623)

“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.”
Bertrand Russell
“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”
Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness
“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”
Bertrand Russell
“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Bertrand Russell
“To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already 3-parts dead.”
Bertrand Russell
“War does not determine who is right - only who is left.”
Bertrand Russell
tags: war
“And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence”
Bertrand Russell
“I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.”
Bertrand Russell
“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.”
Bertrand Russell
“In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
Bertrand Russell
“My desire and wish is that the things I start with should be so obvious that you wonder why I spend my time stating them. This is what I aim at because the point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.”
Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism
“Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.”
Bertrand Russell
“It's easy to fall in love. The hard part is finding someone to catch you.”
Bertrand Russell
“Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.”
Bertrand Russell, New Hopes for a Changing World
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays
“To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.

You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.

You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, 'This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.' Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue.

That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”
Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness
“A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”
Bertrand Russell
“We know very little, and yet it is astonishing that we know so much, and still more astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power.”
Bertrand Russell
“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”
Bertrand Russell
“Those who have never known the deep intimacy and the intense companionship of happy mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give.”
Bertrand Russell
“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth -- more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid ... Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.”
Bertrand Russell, Why Men Fight
“One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways.”
Bertrand Russell
“No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.”
Bertrand Russell, On Education
“It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.”
Bertrand Russell
“As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.”
Bertrand Russell
“Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people's.”
Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society

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